It hit me about day 124. I was committed. Prior to this day I had taken my commitment somewhat lightly. But suddenly I realized that there was no way out. I was pregnant.
I had known for several months that I was pregnant, of course, and my husband and I were very excited. But what hit me on day 124 of the pregnancy wasn't about the baby. It was about the commitment that baby would require. I was scared and didn't know if I could follow through with what I had started. But there was no turning back. That baby is now 19 years old, and I have been fully engaged as her mom every single day of those years. Even though I faced some difficult times and had to make a lot of tough decisions, my commitment drew me into a closer, stronger relationship with both my daughter and God.
In the end, pregnancy is about life. And so is attending a small group. Over the past 13 years, I have been a member of several small groups. And in that time I have learned a lot about the value of making a commitment to a group of people. Like pregnancy, I learned how by doing it.
Attendance Is Crucial
The first thing I learned was that I need to show up to my small-group meeting every week. I never could figure out how to take a week off of being pregnant and still maintain the new life that was growing inside of me. Similarly, missing my group meeting for a week or two really affects the new life God is trying to foster in me through fellowship, worship, and Bible study.
I also noticed that my absence adversely affects the dynamic of the group and the experience of the other members. It leaves a hole in the discussion that only me and my experiences, knowledge, and faith can fill.
Jumping in Is Crucial
Secondly, I need to participate in all facets of the small-group life: fellowship, worship, Bible study, prayer, and outreach. There is no such thing as being a little pregnant, and there is no better way to experience a small group than jumping in with both feet.
Consider these opportunities as methods of fully engaging with your small group:
- Fellowship. Have fun sharing little bits about your life during icebreakers, stay after the meeting to follow up on previous conversations with other members, attend potlucks and BBQs, and so on.
- Worship. Be willing to try new things during your group's worship time—singing along with CD, reading a Psalm together as a group, sitting in meditative silence, and any other forms of worship your leader encourages you to try. Use these times of worship to change your focus from your busy life—to-do lists, work, and family—to God. Preparing for worship by shifting your attention to God will create a more fertile soil in your heart to receive what he has to say to you in his Word.
- Bible study. Be bold and take part in the discussion. There is no such thing as a dumb question when pursuing a fuller understanding of God's Word, so ask when you don't understand or when you'd like to explore something more fully. Also, be sure to really listen to what others are saying and continually look to the Scriptures for answers to disagreements.
- Prayer. Remember, prayer is between you and God. Give yourself grace as you explore different forms of prayer. These can include silence, praying the Scriptures, praying out loud, praying in different positions (kneeling, hands raised, lying prostrate on the floor), and laying hands on the one in need of prayer.
- Outreach. Be willing to reach out to those beyond your small group. When God nurtures our spirits through fellowship, worship, Bible study, and prayer, there are always leftovers. Show up to outreach events, or make suggestions for an outreach event to your group leader. Remember, when we give to others, God always gives us more in return.